No, a Missing Teen Was Not Just Found on TikTok
Message boards lit up on Tuesday, January 5 with theories that missing California teen Karlie Lain Gusé had been found on TikTok under the username @imhavingsomuchfunn. In the now-deleted videos, a young girl dances to popular TikTok songs. Some speculated, due to her somewhat erratic behavior in the videos, she was being held against her will, and that the account might belong to Gusé—or another missing teen Adrianna Lynn Stahler.
Gusé went missing in 2018, and Stahler, who is from Pennsylvania, disappeared on December 28, 2020. But the TikTok account in question does not belong to either of them. The teen actually behind the account, users discovered, was also posting under @chickfilletpeabrain and has assured users in several live videos, in which she has an English accent, that she is safe.
Viewers only suspected that the account belonged to Gusé or Stahler because all three teens have nose rings. When the user first live streamed from @imhavingsomuchfunn, she appeared to follow commenters’ instructions to do things like touch her hair or blink if she was in trouble. She also appeared to give a hand signal meant to convey violence at home. But in a final live video streamed from @chickfilletpeabrain, she insists yet again that she is safe and clears up a number of questions about her accounts.
“I deleted [the videos] because everyone was reporting them, obviously,” she says. She also disputes any accusations that the videos were faked for attention, saying they were just meant to be videos of her dancing. While she says she does not have a permanent home, she says she is currently staying with family.
The user is keeping all other information about her actual identity private, but it’s becoming increasingly clear who she’s not. On message boards and in comments, many viewers claimed to report the videos to the FBI and other authorities, and in the case of Stahler, the police issued a statement to Lehigh Valley Live in response.
“We are aware of the Tik-Tok video(s) from all your tips and are currently investigating.”
On Tuesday, Stahler was found safe and unharmed. Gusé remains missing, but given TikTok’s history with true crime and cold cases, it’s understandable users were eager for another victory. Last year, user Sarah Turney successfully used the app to bring attention to the 2001 disappearance of her 17-year-old sister, Alissa Turney. In the videos, Turney accused her father of playing a role, and presented evidence. It went viral, and in August, her father was charged with second-degree homicide.
Internet sleuths like the late crime writer Michelle McNamara also played a huge role in the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, who was identified not long after her 2016 death as the Golden State Killer. Meanwhile, though, Marina Joyce-type videos—in which a user appears to be in peril—are often believed to be staged or otherwise not of any actual concern. No missing person has resurfaced on TikTok, and baseless speculation by conspiracy theory-prone users can only be a source of distress for families like the Gusés, who for a brief moment may have believed their loved one had been found.